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The enthusiasm gap – Michael Bennet edition

September 2, 2010

Let’s take a quick look at our democratic Colorado Senator Michael Bennet who is up for election this fall.

Mr. Bennet, like most of our political royalty, hails from a deeply connected family. His father was an aid to Hubert Humphrey and Bill Clinton, ran the USAID under Carter, served as president of National Public Radio, and was president of Wesleyan University.  His brother is the editor of the Atlantic.

Mr. Bennet is also well connected to the world of high finance having worked six years as a managing director for a multi-billion dollar tycoon.  His total assets are disclosed at between $5.9 to $27 million.

There would seem to be little basis to think he had much in common with the average American or that he would be likely to represent their interests.  And it doesn’t take long to confirm our doubts.

At a recent public meeting, he stated we had nothing to show for the rise in public debt and presented charts showing 65% of it was due to entitlement programs.  Unemployment insurance and entitlements may be nothing for Mr. Bennet but it’s been the only source of income for lots of people.   Bennet then adds that we cannot grow out of this debt, implying strongly that we need to cut entitlements. And if he believes we can’t grow ourselves out of the debt then the only conclusion is that we must accept high unemployment.  That, again, appears to be nothing for Mr. Bennet.  He refused at the meeting to commit on the extension of the Bush tax cuts, a rather cowardly position.  He was then questioned about a report showing that public sector wages were higher than private.  Any true progressive would relate this question to the fact of repressed wage growth for all Americans over the past few decades when only the few elites (such as Bennet) gained.  What did Bennet say?  “This is a time when we need to restrain wages in the public sector” and we need to make sure “our wages are not growing faster than inflation or faster than our growth.”  His answer to a public – private wage disparity isn’t to raise private wages but, rather, to lower the public.  Bennet’s former billionaire employer will be very pleased.

Bennet’s website also demonstrates his lack of progressive credentials.

His ideas for generating full employment are nothing but useless regurgitations.  They are, in order: 1) pass a Wall Street reform bill. 2) bring tighter discipline to our budgets (translation – cut entitlements and don’t pass substantial stimulus); 3) invest in the domestic energy economy (although not detailing to what extent and where the funds will come from); and 4) revitalizing public education (as if education could be a reasonable answer for workers competing against foreigners earning pennies on the hour.)

His position on the national debt is Hooverian and demonstrates the all too prevalent misunderstanding of its true nature.  He calls for PAYGO budgeting rules which would guarantee no significant future stimulus.  He even calls for taking money out of the economy through Clintonian level surpluses – a sure recipe for disaster.  He fully supports the deficit commission which will recommend social security cuts, favors a 3% of GDP cap on yearly deficits, and calls for caps on discretionary spending.  His position on social security is as clear as a politician can be:

“I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues in Congress to preserve the integrity of Medicare and Social Security while reducing their increasingly large impact on the overall budget.  The path to entitlement reform is a bipartisan one.  We have to move past politics as usual – scaring beneficiaries and putting off tough but essential choices.  When it comes to entitlements, the old battle lines are only making the problem worse.”

For progressives, this man is a disaster.   I reject the class interests and old time republican values Bennet represents.

The democrats are a dying breed.

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From → Colorado, US

2 Comments
  1. Julie permalink

    I just bookmarked your blog, I came over from Glenn Greenwald… Great post. I went to my local caucus and was just appalled that no one really knew anything about Bennett, they didn’t even know what a “Blue Dog” was or what a corporatist he is. I’m sure Andrew Romanoff will land on his feet (in DC, I suppose) but the loss of the primary to Bennett is going to accelerate our march towards some really ugly remaking of the feudal system.

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